The Importance of UV Protection in Tents: What You Need to Know

The Importance of UV Protection in Tents: What You Need to Know

This article describes the importante oc UV protectin in canopy tents.

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One of the main jobs of a pop-up canopy tent or camping tent is to protect you from the harsh light of the sun.

But this isn’t just about giving you cool, comfortable shade; it is also about blocking UV rays from reaching your skin.

Not all tents are equal in terms of UV protection, however. This post will help you understand the features and factors that give a tent adequate UV protection. But before we get into that, let’s discuss why it is so important to get a UV-resistant tent.

Why UV Protection Matters in Tents

UV rays are harmful to your health. UV protection from a tent can help to reduce your exposure, keeping you safe.

Here are some of the possible harmful effects of UV rays:

  • You might get a sunburn.
  • Over time with repeated exposure, your risk of skin cancer increases.
  • Over time with repeated exposure, your skin may start to age prematurely.
  • UV rays can also increase your risk of getting serious eye diseases.
  • When you are exposed to UV rays, that can also be harmful for your immunity. You might get sick more easily, and/or have a harder time getting better if you do contract something.

Additionally, sun exposure can damage items underneath your tent too, so that is just one more reason to block UV rays.

“But doesn’t all shade keep me safe from UV rays?” you might be asking. “Why do I need the tent to include UV protection?”

UV rays can get through tent fabric. Just having shade certainly helps you, but it does not 100% prevent sunburns or other health risks from UV rays. That is why you need your tent to specifically block UV rays.

Note that this feature is important no matter where you live. You can even get a sunburn on a cloudy day, and the risk can be even higher if the sun is glaring off of snow. So no matter your climate, you should get a UV-resistant tent.

How to Choose a Tent with UV Protection

Here are some recommendations that will help you buy a tent that protects you from harmful UV rays.

Fabric: Polyester, nylon and cotton all offer some degree of natural UV protection. Keep in mind that untreated, however, that protection is minimal.

Color: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “Dark or bright colors, including red, black and navy blue, absorb more UV rays than lighter colors like whites and pastels. For example, an everyday white cotton T-shirt has a UPF of only about 5. As a rule of thumb, the more intense the hue, the better protection the clothing will provide.” This same rule applies to tent fabrics. The trade-off, however, is that dark fabrics trap more heat. This will not matter though if you have a pop-up canopy tent with an open design.

UV Coating: A UV-resistant tent needs to have a UV-resistant coating on it, which may be applied to either or both sides of the fabric. Examples of UV-resistant coatings include silicone, polyether urethane (PE) and polyester urethane (PU). Some tent fabrics also are coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2).

Something else you need to know is that over time, UV exposure damages even relatively resistant tent fabrics themselves, causing them to gradually break down. So, you should not leave a tent sitting out bright, direct sunlight for long periods of time. It is fine to use your tent in the sun, but once you are done, you should store it somewhere dark.

Coatings, like fabrics, can also break down over time. But if necessary, you can apply more protective coating to your tent in the future.

Check the Tent’s UPF Rating

While reading about the materials and features of a tent can help you determine whether it is adequately UV-resistant, you can also look at its UPF rating. This is a number that tells you what percentage of UV rays the tent blocks.

  • 15-24: Tents in this UPF range block anywhere from 93.3 to 95.9% of UV rays.
  • 25-39: Tents in this UPF range block anywhere from 96.0 to 97.4% of UV rays.
  • 40+: Tents in this UPF range block anywhere from 97.5 to 98% of UV rays, sometimes a little more.

All things being equal, a higher UPF rating is obviously better. That being said, even lower UPF tents still block most UV rays. So if you are on a tight budget, a lower UPF is fine.

Don’t Forget to Take Other Steps to Mitigate Sun Exposure

Once you get a tent that does a great job blocking UV rays, you will have a great start to protecting yourself from the harmful effects of UV rays. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to take some additional steps.

Remember, some UV rays can still get through even a high UPF tent. Plus, sun can come in through the open sides of a canopy tent.

So, you should still wear sunscreen if you are going to be under your tent for a long period of time, and/or clothing that covers your body adequately.

In some cases, you might also want to consider putting up one or more sidewalls on your canopy tent, just to get the extra shade and shelter. You can also try to set up your tent in a location that includes some natural shade to begin with.


While basic shade gives you some protection from harmful UV rays, you really need a UV-resistant tent to protect your health.

Shop for a tent that is made out of UV-resistant fabric with an effective UV-blocking coating, and consider choosing one with a dark fabric color. Keep wearing sunscreen, and do your best to maintain your tent over the long term.

A high-quality UV coating should last a long time, but remember, you can always apply a UV blocking spray to your tent fabric in the future to re-up its protective capabilities.

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